issue lighting MSR Simmerlite

8:40 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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This is one of those topics that doesn't have a clear home.  Is it Backcountry, as in "general backcountry topics"?  is it "Camp Kitchen"?  Is it "Gear Repair"?  Anyway, here it is.

I'm having trouble getting my Simmerlite to light "properly".  I'm following what I understand to be the correct procedure.  But either I end up with a flame that sputters out before the "hissing" (meaning it's actually running vs just still heating up) starts, or I get a blazing inferno that does away with the need for a campfire.

Then on one night while out on a trip this week, even once I got past that stage, I had trouble turning up the gas flow without ending up with a mix of the "correct" blue flame and a leaping yellow flame.  Fortunately it eventually settled down.  And the next morning it worked more "normally" again.

I did just order & receive an "Expedition Repair Kit", which I guess contains all the components I'd need to rebuild it.  But it's my understanding that this kind of service is rarely required - and I hoped to carry the repair kit as an emergency contingency in case I run into issues partway thru the JMT trip.

But given this week's issue I think something needs to be done now.  Any thoughts on what these symptoms indicate in terms of a needed repair?

10:02 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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I use a Simmerlite for all of my trips and I'm on my second one after many years with a Whisperlite and before that 20 years with the Svea123.  The Simmerlite must be shaken after each cook session to clean the jet and I know you already know this.

O rings and rubber caps and grommets and all the rest generally rarely need replacing, although I always carry the repair kit with the little wrench tool and have replaced a couple on occasion.

Every couple months I do an at-home cleaning which means pulling the stove apart (not the pump) and pulling out the steel wire cable and cleaning it and the housing tube with gasoline.  This can be a real pain in the bunghole when trying to reinsert the cable into the sheath tube and get it all the way back to the end near the jet.  I usually use pliars for this job and one time I never could get the cable back in and THAT Simmerlite is sitting on a shelf somewhere.  Hence the "second" Simmerlite.

As long as you can get good pump pressure and you get adequate priming, with a clean stove and using clean Coleman fuel, and keeping the jet needle clean, you should after priming get a normal hot blue flame without flareups or yellow flames.

If it's vital and you've got a big trip coming, I think it's smart to have duplicate items at home ready to go as you can't afford a stove failure in the field.  Have a new pump and a new stove ready to go as backup. 

10:48 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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How full is the fuel tank?

  1. Completely full (little or no air).
  2. Almost full.
  3. Less than 2/3 full.

How many times do you pump it before starting it?

Do you have the user's manual and follow the instructions?


2:22 p.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I have a Simmerlite and have experienced the same thing.  I rang Cascade Designs as I was very surprised.  Some of my issue was due to altitude and temperature but also lack of maintenance.

Needs shaking after use and basic field cleaning occasionally.

2:48 p.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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Thanks for the feedback guys.  This is a D'oh! moment... or to put it differently, I feel like a dunce :).  I'm embarrassed to admit I've never actually done the "shake to clean" thing, though I vaguely remember reading about it when I bought the stove 4 or 5 years ago.  I guess it says something about this stove that it's worked as well as it has (albeit only lightly used) for all these years without any maintenance...

I've downloaded the manual, am reviewing the maintenance procedures, and will report back when I've followed them.

Can we just pretend I didn't ask this question? :)

3:34 p.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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No worries mate,  Just report back, e.g. with,

- what you find

- what you do

- what happens

4:50 p.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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If it were me I would personally just gut the stove and give it a good once over(cleaning.)


Also check your pump and make sure everything is in working order. 

A little love goes a long way. ;)

5:13 p.m. on July 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I hope the only issue was lack of maintenance or just a good shaking needed.  I got in the habit years ago, to blow the flame out just before it burns itself out, may save soot build up in the jet.  I've never had issues with my non-shaker jet stoves(most of my MSR's are oldies). On a different stove, on a different forum, the user discovered there was a leak where the fuel pickup tube attaches to the pump, hence fuel now and then or just air exiting the fuel bottle when trying to light after priming.  Fuel needs to be present in the fuel bottle too. :)  I've been trying to get a Simmerlite cheap to add to my 20 stove MSR collection, so I have no experience with one, the generator configuration is different than the WL's but would have the same issues.  I only have a couple shaker jet versions as most of my collection is of the early models and early Int'l's. 


10:10 a.m. on July 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I'd say the shaker jet is your most likely culprit , but there is the possibility of fuel contamination too. A little bit of moisture in your fuel can cause flare-ups, drop-outs and leaping yellow flames when bursts of water vapor enter the burner head.

4:16 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Make sure the white fuel line that runs from the pump into the bottle is oriented so that the tube is on the bottom of the bottle when it is laying on its side rather than facing up. The tube can easily get spun around so it's sucking mainly air rather than fuel. Had the same issue a while back with similar symptoms.

7:32 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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OK, I finally got around to working on the Simmerlite.  I got the MSR Simmerlite "Expedition Kit", and followed the instructions for "Maintenance" and "Pump Maintenance", including "Extensive Cleaning of the Jet and Fuel Line" and "Lubricating the Pump Cup".  In other words, I followed all of the instructions.

I also replaced the Fuel Tube O-ring, the Control Valve O-ring, and Pump Seal/Fuel Bottle O-ring, just for good measure.

I'm not sure it's any better than it was before.  I still see little wisps (albeit minor  wisps) of yellow flame even after a couple minutes of run-time.

Worse, I now see fuel coming out around the bolt at the top of the burner during the priming sequence.  I never noticed that before.  I have it tightened quite well I believe (if I tighten it any more, it's impossible to turn the legs into the "packed" position.

Since someone also suggested contaminated fuel, I emptied the fuel bottle and refilled it from a fresh not-previously-opened bottle (before I began the maintenance procedure).

Here's what it looks like when it's running.  It's still a hassle to get it lit (lots of flaring, repeated lightings, etc).  Due to the flickering light here (thru the tree) you need to look closely to see the yellow wisps, but they are there.

Anyway, I'm not sure what I'll do next with this.  I'm not in the market for a new $100 stove, but I am running out of time to mess with this one. 

9:51 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Does the Simmerlite have a cable in the fuel line like the Whisperlite, Int'l?  If so, was that taken out, the line reamed, cable scrubbed, then flushed out with fuel? Sounds like you mentioned something along those lines as part of the jet fuel line maintenance.  If you cleaned the fuel line, the yellow may just be debris if you didn't run clean fuel thru the line and over the cable.  I worked a mini-market for years, people are always trying to blame the fuel for their problems.  If white gas is stored in a metal container, it will keep for years and years.  Also, you have been using Coleman fuel not pump gas right?


11:27 p.m. on July 17, 2012 (EDT)
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Yup, the cable flushing was part of the instruction set I followed.

Subsequent to my update above, I watched a couple of Youtube videos, including one by MSR themselves.  The operational flame looks about like mine.

The remaining "issue" is the fuel around the top bolt during priming.  Maybe it always did it and I didn't notice.  And once the stove is warmed up I don't see it anymore.  But tomorrow I'll disassemble & reassemble the stove just in case something didn't get seated properly during the assembly today.

8:47 p.m. on July 18, 2012 (EDT)
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OK, case closed.

Today I disassembled and re-assembled the stove, this time "optimizing my procedure" (read: this time doing it correctly).  While I was at it, I repeated the cleaning procedure, this time more thoroughly.  Afterwards, the stove fired up like a champ.

The pump was squeaking again though.  So this time, instead of just applying pump cup oil, as I had yesterday, I replaced the pump cup, and oiled the new one thoroughly.  No more squeaking.  And, firing it up one more time, it roared like it hasn't since it was new.

Thanks for all the feedback.  I now feel (1) confident that the stove is ready to go , and (2) that I am now comfortable with the maintenance procedures so I can keep it running well for a long time.

1:49 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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this is all very good to read

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